From the beginning of his 2016 campaign, President Trump’s stance on cannabis reform has been somewhat unclear – and definitely not overtly supportive. While he said on multiple occasions that it should be a decision left to the states, he has also contradicted this in attempts to block federal protections for state-legal medical marijuana businesses. Some believed that he might change his stance on cannabis reform for his 2020 re-election campaign in order to gain new votes, but it appears that’s far from the truth.
In fact, in the last month, the Trump Administration once again proposed eliminating the rider provision in the budget plan that protects medical marijuana from prosecution by the Department of Justice (DOJ). When signing the 2020 budget bill, Trump specifically noted that he could ignore these provisions, in order to carry out federal law.
Just as recently, Trump proved that he was one of the many who fell victim to the false information spread by the Reefer Madness and ‘Just Say No’ era when he said marijuana causes an IQ problem. At this point, that specific prohibitionist claim has been debunked; even the National Institute on Drug Abuse determined there is no “causal relationship” between cannabis use and IQ loss.
“I think the president is looking at this from a standpoint of a parent—a parent of a young person—to make sure we keep our kids away from drugs,” Marc Lotter, director of strategic communications for the Trump 2020 effort, said in an interview with Las Vegas CBS affiliate KLAS-TV. “They need to be kept illegal. That is the federal policy.”
These new comments and the talk of reversing some of the only legislation that protects states’ rights to legalize cannabis are very contradictory to how the President originally allowed us to perceive his views on cannabis in 2016. At the time, he was vocally in support of states’ rights and the STATES Act, which would prohibit federal interference with state-legal cannabis.
“Trump’s remarks simply reveal that he is out of touch, given that the majority of Americans support marijuana legalization for both medical and adult use,” Sheila Vakharia of the Drug Policy Alliance said. “This type of rhetoric is fear-mongering and inflammatory.”
Since states began legalizing medical marijuana in the 90s, issues surrounding cannabis have been murky at best. And in one presidency, a lot of the progress toward federal change has been reversed. From appointing the anti-cannabis Jeff Sessions as Attorney General to rescinding the Cole Memo in 2018 and his attempts to remove protections that have been in place since 2001 from a budget bill, it doesn’t seem likely the Trump Administration’s stance on cannabis will change if he manages to get re-elected in November.